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Europe close: Stocks end slightly mixed

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Wednesday 28 Feb 2024

Europe close: Stocks end slightly mixed

(Sharecast News) - European stocks ended Wednesday's session in mixed fashion as investors stayed cautious ahead of a US inflation reading on Thursday, while shares in French call centre operator Teleperformance and UK wealth manager St James's Place both tanked.

The pan-regional Stoxx 600 index was down 0.35% at 494.59, while the region's other main indices were modestly mixed alongside.

Investors were also eyeing news from China as real estate developer Country Garden faced a liquidation petition from creditor, Ever Credit Limited.

"The development threatens to reignite concerns about the fragility of the sector and cast doubt on efforts made by authorities to shore it up and stop contagion," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.

"It's clear there is no easy exit from the debt quagmire these companies are mired in, and it indicates that restoring confidence to the sector is going to be a drawn-out process. The longer it goes on, and property values stay depressed, it is also likely to affect consumer wealth perceptions and continue to act as a drag on the wider Chinese economy."

"Iron ore prices, which had been resilient are coming under pressure, sinking to four-month lows, amid fresh deterioration in the prospects for the property sector and concerns that indebted local governments in China may scale back infrastructure spending.

In economic news, confidence in the eurozone worsened unexpectedly this month, highlighting the single-currency bloc's struggle to emerge from the impact of the Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine, according to a survey of consumers and managers published on Wednesday.

In equity news, Teleperformance slumped by 14% to a record low on concerns artificial intelligence (AI) will disrupt the French call centre firm's business.

St James's Place shares fall 19% after the UK's biggest wealth manager took a £426m provision for client refunds.

Worldline shares were down 10% as it warned of slower growth this year after posting a loss for 2023 and took a €1.15bn impairment in its merchant services division.

Shares in Vodafone drifted lower as the telecoms giant confirmed advanced talks with Swisscom over the sale of its Italian business for €8bn in cash.

Denmark's Sydbank surged 10% after the bank posted record annual profits.

UK housebuilder Taylor Wimpey was lower by 5% as it planned to build fewer homes this year and revealed a slump in profits.


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